George meets Dream on a cold winter day in the middle of world war two.
George strolled past the towering shelves filled to the brim with books, eyes scanning the tall and sleek mahogany wood housing the hundreds of paperbound knowledge. His steps echo across the almost barren walls, every click of his heel reverberated in his ear.
No one visits the library that often anymore, not ever since the war started anyways.
He closes off to a section by the end of the aisle for kids books. He takes in a deep inhale, the comforting scent of worn paper and something familiar to grass, filling his nose as it soothes the aching muscles in his body, the tension leaving his bones.
He doesn’t get why people don’t go here anymore.
Sure, people have found their own ways of coping during this heinous time. He’s seen men at street corners downing bottles of whiskey, to avoid the fact that their sons are getting bombed outside the border of their land. He pretends not to notice the women gouging themselves in their houses as they seek each other’s company whilst their husbands drink their sorrows. He watches the children run about in the center, blissfully unaware of everything around them.
Everyone has their way of getting through the war.
George didn’t have one at first. For the past year and a half after it started- he’s just been holding himself in his house, reading the same well-worn bookshelf until he memorized the words to heart. It wasn’t until he decided that reading Erenest Hemingway’s ‘Farewell To Arms’ for the umpteenth time was sickening.
So, he puts on one of his coats, bracing himself for the cold autumn winds, and ventures out into the decaying world.
The library was a homey place, almost quaint in its size. Even after all the abominations performed outside of the safe town he resided in that happened, it stood tall and welcoming for all to indulge in its comfort.
He finally finessed his way to the more poetry and miscellaneous section of the library. Closed off and secluded from the rest of its counterparts- this one was just a high shelf that held a measly ten to twelve books.
George stared at the high self, it was a head taller than what George could reach.
He held in the urge to scoff. It’s almost ironic how the scene plays out. There’s this one book- soft pink with small gold accents swirling the neck. The title is some foreign language he can’t understand, but ultimately, it intrigues him more. It’s the only book of its kind so far.
He stands there, slightly irritated- mostly disappointed. As a heavy exhale escapes his lips.
He stands there, glaring at the top shelf as if it had cursed the world. Before he shuffles his feet to the side and begins to walk away.
“Do you need something from there?”
George snaps his head so fast that he gets whiplash. The sudden voice in the barren library was enough to startle his nerves, sending shivers down his spine as his eyes flash to the source of the voice.
“Woah-” a man, he notes, a man with blonde hair wearing a thick woollen coat says. He raises his hands in mock surrender as a surprised look forms on his face. “Jumpy much?”
This time he rolls his eyes. George then proceeds to glare at the stranger, who’s one hand is holding a book. He rolls his eyes and continues his walk towards the exit of the library.
“You looked like that shelf had a personal vendetta against you.” The stranger chides again. George has promptly decided at that moment that he officially hates him, right then and there. One for ruining the quiet ambience of the library, and second for subtle calling out of his debilitating height.
“I can help you get the book you wanted if you like.”
George stops in his wake, sparring the man behind a raised brow.
The blonde man shrugs, “I saw you looking at one of the books, no one comes to the library anymore anyways.”
George fully turns to him, suddenly intrigued. He’s felt like he’s seen this man around before, he feels almost familiar, like a sort of distant memory he just can’t recall.
George replies hesitantly, “Top right.” He gestures to the light pink book by the corner.
The man smiles, it’s tentative. George notes.
He goes over to the shelf, slightly raises his feet and plucks the book right out of its nook. George stifles a scoff.
The man holds the worn book out to him, with a soft chuckle he says; “Oscar Wilde? Good choice.”
George doesn’t get what he’s saying but takes the book anyway. He gives the man a small nod, as he glides his fingers over the gold tilting. Now that he can see the name of it, it’s some sort of Latin-like wording that he can’t decipher.
He must have been staring too long for comfort because soon enough, the same man perks up.
“De Profundis, meaning heartfelt cry of anguish or sorrow.”
George gazes back up at him, a sliver of a smile gracing his lips. It’s nice to find another person as interested in books as him. Especially in times like these.
“Oh? What’s it about?” He inquires, immediately the other man’s face lights up.
“It’s a letter written by the author- to his friend during his imprisonment--”
The man begins to ramble, stringing together a tale with his quick spoken words. George is sucked by the way he describes the story. He makes the most mundane parts of it feel so vivid and alive. He gestures animatedly while explaining, his hands waving pantomime.
He rambles, making everything seem much more interesting than what it is.
George can feel the smile crawling up his lips. The man slips and stutters on his words at times, he looks at George, embarrassed. And George can’t help the small huff of laughter that escapes his lips.
“Sorry-- I got carried away.” The man blurts, cheeks dusted warm pink.
George chuckles, “No, it was nice.”
The man smiles again, all the nervousness from earlier completely gone. It’s bright and spreads across his entire face like a beam of sunshine. It makes the freckles that scatter across his cheeks all the more visible. It’s a pretty smile, George thinks.
“Oscar Wilde is a favorite of mine, more so with De Profundis. It’s oddly poetic for its caliber.” He notes offhandedly.
“Really? I’ll be sure to look more into his works then.” George says, opening the book to the first page. A small piece of paper falls out and flutters to his shoes.
They both stare at it, George with curiosity and the other man with mortification.
The other man quickly scampers towards the paper, hurriedly picking up and clasping it tightly in his hand. He looks at George bashfully, the pink tinge on his cheeks are now full-blown scarlet, as he lifts an arm to scratch the back of his head.
“Sorry! I--uh, take notes in books sometimes, like my favorite lines.” He stutters, turning to avoid George’s gaze. “It’s nothing- don’t mind it.”
Suddenly, George’s interest piqued.
“May I see it?” He asks with as much politeness he can pour into it. For someone innate reason, he has the pull towards it. As if unveiling the secrets of this stranger had the utmost importance to him all of a sudden. Like he needed to know.
Dream grimaces at the piece of parchment, before giving George a pleading look.
“It’s just some poetry I thought was-”
“I love poetry.”
George doesn’t know why he said that. He doesn't know why his cheeks flame up in shame when he does. He doesn’t know why he feels his insides combust when the other man looks up at him, eyes viridian and bright, almost shy. He doesn’t know why.
He is the term- ignorance is bliss , personified.
The man looks around- as if trying to see if anyone will overhear them. He turns back to George, handing him the folded piece of paper with trembling hands. George takes it gently from his grasp.
He carefully pulls it apart, as if it was heated glass, fragile and delicate.
“When you really want love, you will find it waiting for you.”
The man says it aloud while George reads it. It’s written in almost a chicken scrawl like way. George finds it incredibly endearing how beside it, are other little quotations and bookmarks. There were also little smiley faces littered throughout the paper. It seemed personal, close even.
George looks up to the stranger, the only person in this lonely library with him. And probably the only other person in their town that indulges in books as deeply as him. He doesn’t hold back the cheek splitting grin that spreads across his face.
“I’m George.” he says, holding out his hand with the note in it.
The blonde man with viridian eyes and freckled cheeks smiles as he takes George’s hand and shakes it firmly.
They meet up in the library a lot now.
Sometimes it’s by accident, like the week after they first met. George had stumbled in at the crack of dawn looking for a book that would keep him awake during his insomniac hours.
Dream would be there, sitting in his spot by the window, eye bags equally deep as George. He would look up at him when he entered, for a second, George thought it would be awkward between them considering it was dead in the night and he was most likely too tired to even process whatever Dream would be saying.
It was the exact opposite of that however, Dream would just smile at him. Offer him a seat beside him, and hold up another book for them to read.
“Grapes of wrath?” was all he said for the night. George returned the smile weakly, before collapsing next to the blonde in exhaustion.
Those nights are an accident, but George always wakes up feeling better.
Sometimes, George goes there to see him with intention.
“I need a horror novella that won’t leave my mind.” He said abruptly one day in the middle of a sweltering summer. He slammed his hand down onto the table the other man was sitting on, eyes tired and weary as he spoke.
Dream raised an eyebrow at him but kept his mouth pressed into a sly smirk.
“Call of Cthulhu, H.P Lovecraft. Will scare your brickers off.” Dream says, the confidence oozing out of his tone. George tilts his head at it, a similar grin forming on his face as he sits across Dream.
He crosses his arms, “Bet.”
There’s something about the competitive tension between them. Even if it’s as something as mundane as books, it sends a jolt of excitement through George’s skin, like a current of electricity. The way Dream’s sly smirk turns into a coy grin makes it all the more compelling to wipe it off his face.
“I’d like to see you try, George.”
He would show him, he thought. As he walked over to the bookshelves and plucked the book. He spared Dream one last sanguine look before exiting the library doors, book in hand.
Let’s just say, he came back the next day with a slightly crazed look as he handed the book back over to a hysterically laughing Dream.
Sometimes they don’t meet at all.
There are days where George skips his visits to the library to commute to his parents on the other side of town. There are days where Dream has to work, late into the sleepy hours of the night. There are many interventions in their schedules that keep them from meeting again.
In some way, it makes George upset.
In some way, he wants to see Dream.
He’s gotten comfortable with the easy way he laughs- when he compares it to the likes of a fizzling tea kettle. He’s slowly grown fond of his sly grins, whenever they place bets on how fast they can read the same book. Dream and the library- have somehow become integral parts of his life and routine.
It distracts him from the war, and that's all that matters.
On the days where they don’t meet, George makes a way so they can.
He starts to leave notes in the books that he knows Dream reads. Just like the little note that caused him to befriend the other man in the first place.
He thinks they’re childish at first, but if it’s the only way to talk to Dream without going to him directly, then he’ll take it. He leaves the first note in a book Dream says he’ll go back to after he rereads De Profundis for the umpteenth time. He hopes at least- by some small chance, that Dream would see it.
His hopes were down from the start- he didn’t expect much per se from his poor attempt of socializing.
So he was very much shocked to see it when he opened his copy of Jane Eyre , only to see a piece of parchment fall out.
He stares at it for a moment, confused- before the realization of it sinks in.
He hastily scoops it off the floor. Unfolding it with slightly trembling hands- he lets out a small chuckle when he sees the text.
“People often do a good deed without hope of reward, but for an evil deed they always demand payment.” - The emerald city of oz, I think you’d enjoy this one, has a sense of ridiculousness you have :)
George can’t help but laugh, and it comes out as easy as honey from a jar. Sweet and sickly, it racks through his body like a shockwave. He laughs until his head is light and his body feels almost weightless.
It wasn’t even funny, but George laughs nonetheless.
He doesn’t know why he’s laughing so hard that his bowels hurt at some stupid insult written squabbly on scratch paper. But somehow, it just does.
Dream makes him laugh.
George rolls his eyes, scoffs, and grabs a piece of scrap paper beside him. His face splits into a broad grin, as he whisks away at writing.
They exchange notes in their books more often now.
George would often find pieces of leftover parchment paper as his bookmarks now, he starts to grow even more fond of the quotes and witty messages that the other man leaves behind.
George would leave his notes at the window sill, where he normally sits after work. And sometimes, if he checks there, he’ll find a little note in response.
By now, they’ve grown accustomed to their system. Now, George has something to look forward to after visiting his parents at work.
He’s been told that he smiles more often now, laughs more easily. His happiness has gotten to the point where laugh lines have developed on his face.
Things are easier when he has the man in the library to return too.
It seems all too good to be true really, the fairytale-esque quotes. The overwhelming happiness, it makes it all seem like the war isn’t a thing by this point. Not a problem, not a concern, simply an afterthought of George’s ecstatic ramblings. The stars aligned perfectly at this moment, all for him.
It’s too good to be true.
It’s another slow day when he stumbles into the library with an irritated look. His parents have been babying him for too long now- and apparently, their disagreement led to a full-blown argument about his own decisions. In the end, George walked out with sparks trailing at his heels, a jaded expression as he stormed past the tall mahogany shelves.
He looked around, no tall blonde was in sight. George let out a frustrated sigh, running his hands through his fringe while doing so. He really hoped that Dream would be here today, normally talking to him would give George a sense of ease.
“Just me, huh.” He said to no one in particular, maybe he just needed to fill the silence around him.
His gaze turns to the window sill. There are always books stacked around it, things that Dream tends to leave around. De Profundis sits on top of the towering piles if he can recall- Dream leaves it there for George, claiming that “ It would be better than getting a stool ” as a mockery to his height.
The memory itself brings a faint smile to his lips. He walks over to the sill, eyeing the books around on what he could indulge himself in today. When he settles for one hard bounded copy of The Great Gatsby and settles into the spot where Dream usually resides.
He sifts through the pages for a while, eyes lazily brushing over the words. He can feel a yawn building up in the back of his throat. His eyelids were droopy and heavy. The toll of fatigue finally settling into his bones. The quiet ambience of the library soothes the tension in his muscles from earlier.
George looks up, to the little nook at the corner of the window. In the little spot where he places notes for Dream.
In it, pokes a small piece of colored parchment. George’s interest suddenly piques.
He gets up from his seat, standing on the ledge of the window sill. He stretches his arm outward, cleanly snatching the paper from its spot.
He sits back down, clasping the paper’s folds, unravelling them.
I like books, you like books, why don’t we start writing the story of us-
Before George can question the line- Dream bursts through the library doors.
George whips his head around to meet Dreams, slightly crazed eyes. His clothes were rumpled, and his hair was matted to his forehead. A sheen of sweat covered his face, and he was panting heavy breaths. But that didn’t catch George’s attention, however- it was the tight bouquet of flowers in his white-knuckled grip.
Dream looked at him, tired and weary. George’s gaze drifted back to the flowers.
“Uh?” Dream said hastily as he quickly ducked away from George’s gaze.
“I-I-- Shit. Wait-- this was supposed to be more thought out.” He stammered, grimacing at George with crimson-coloured cheeks.
George raised his eyebrow, an unfamiliar feeling stirred in the bellows of his stomach. He wouldn’t know what to call it- a mix of dread and anticipation, but somewhere underlying it was almost a hopeful feeling. Overall of that however was happiness.
George always felt happy when it came to Dream.
“Thought out what exactly?” George inquired.
Dream looked at him, then back to the flowers, and let out a frustrated sound. His shoulder slumped and it looked as if his spirit deflated.
“I-- The timing was off, and I got held up at work. I didn’t even know what flowers to get! And this stupid note--”
“You wrote that?”
Now that George voiced it out loud, he knew it was a stupid thing to ask. Who else would have written the letter besides Dream? The one he’s been exchanging notes with for the past month or so? But it was the first thing that came out of his mouth.
Dream nodded sheepishly. This time it was George’s turn to blush.
“I-- It was, uhm, cute.”
George internally slapped himself. Cute? How hopeless could he be?
He looked back to the letter in his hand, crushed tightly against his hold. How the words inside made him smile. How Dream made him smile.
“Really?” He blurted, George looked back up to him surprised. “ I-- I mean yes. It is.” He quickly added, coughing into his fist.
George could feel his cheeks move upwards, to make room for the wide smile on his face.
“So, who are the flowers for?”
Dream glances shyly at him, before gently nudging the bouquet to George's chest.
George’s eyes widened like dinner plates. The feeling of hope inside him hits full swing and slams against his chest. He can feel his heart pounding within his ears, and he knows for certain how red his face is by how hot it feels. He opens his mouth- but no words come out. He is completely and utterly speechless.
Dream looks like a deer caught in the headlights, anxious and jittery as he watches George gawk at the array of chrysanthemums and carnations.
“I-- You don’t have to take them! I don’t even know if you like red carnations. The lady in the shop says that they mean admiration-- and I do admire you! Wait, no-- I appreciate-- shit no wait- I just hope you like them .”
Dream’s head is facing the other way now, avoiding eye contact entirely. He doesn’t see the absolutely beaming smile George has.
He can’t help but laugh, he just can’t. It comes so smooth and easy that it feels like he’s been doing it all his life. He laughs, and his eyes crinkle into semi crescent moons, shining with mirth and life.
He laughs at how in love he is.
Dream looks back at him, first stuttering in confusion at his laughter. Then, he notices the way George grins and soon joins him in their disarrayed song of happiness.
Moments later, when their chortles turn into soft giggles, and the library is once again its quiet solitude.
“Do you mind if i-”
They both fall quiet again. George tries to stifle the giggle that arises in his throat. They’re so new to all of this.
Dream clears his throat. Making a grand stride towards him, and closing the short distance between them. He promptly takes George’s hand in his and clasps it tightly. His eyes scan for any sort of discomfort, but all he can see is the glee that dances around in George’s brown irises.
“My plan didn’t go as I expected it too, but really, what does? I didn’t plan on meeting you in the library either -- and yet it still feels like fate,”
Dream exhales a shaky breath,
“So would you plan on joining me for lunch tomorrow at town square? No notes, no books. Just us?”
The smile on his face grows impossibly wide. He didn’t even have to ask for his answer.
George was a fool for believing that everything was ok.
He’s a fool for even being happy in the first place.
“They’re drafting again.”
George chokes on his food. His mother sits across from him from the long dining room table. Her elegantly wrinkled face holds no sign of it being false. George swallows down his food, it feels like a rock had been lodged in his throat.
His father looks deadpan as ever, but George can see the smallest brush of a crease on his forehead. His mother on the other hand looks visibly distraught, her lips are slanted in a frown, and her brows furrow at the thought of her son being caught in the vicious war outside their borders.
George swallows the rest of his food, it's bland and tasteless. “When?”
“Tomorrow at the pavilion. A sergeant will be arriving to collect the new recruits around daybreak.” His mother replies, standing up from her chair. She goes around the table to collect their plates. His father simply does not react to her words.
“I worry for you, George.” She whispers softly when she reaches his part of the table, slowly sliding his plate off.
“Will I be drafted?” he mutters.
His mother’s face turns stunned for a moment.
“What? Of course not dear, we would never allow that.” She replies. George turns back to her abruptly, visible confusion crossing his face.
“But you said-”
“George dear, the war is at full swing. They’re taking more men from towns and all of them are fresh adults. The drafts will be brutal this time.” His mother continues, pressing her gloved palm against her cheek.
George doesn’t get it, he doesn’t understand why all of a sudden his father’s expression grows sullen. He doesn’t understand the worry in his mother’s age ridden eyes.
He’s part of a family of aristocrats, known in the inner circles of his town. His father is an accredited politician. They're old money, worn and riddled through the years. Living in comfort in a town war away from the battlefield. His parents ensured him the safest life they could offer. And yet-- they make it seem as if it was all going to end.
He doesn’t get it one bit.
“She’s talking about that boy you’ve been meddling with.”
The spite in his father’s tone makes both him and his mother turn sharply to face him. A shiver runs down his spine like cold water, his hands fist the expensive silken table cloths firmly.
They were talking about Dream.
Suddenly the realization set into him.
“Dream’s going to get drafted?” He asked aloud, his mind a muddled mess.
The look on his mother’s face soon turned pitiful. She laid her warm hand over his reassuringly as it all came crashing down onto him.
Dream would be going into the war.
He shook himself of the thought. The war was hell on earth. With countries all over the world clamoring for the scraps of their dignity. All moral and humane actions were thrown off the table, and now it was only brimstone and bloodshed for all that was involved. And for what? The death of countless innocents and men with no future.
It had riddled their nation and poisoned their minds. It was everywhere now. Outside the walls, George knew about the bombs, about the guns and blood that painted the dry soil. George knew of death- yet had never brushed its embrace.
And Dream might--
“I say you cut off all relations with that boy.” His father scorned, placing a large cigar in his mouth. “When he dies, it’ll only bring you more harm than good.”
George stood up abruptly, slamming his hands onto the table. Shocking his mother, and angering his father.
“He is not going.” He stated firmly, words dripping with vigor. “He won’t be drafted--”
“And what will you do if he does? When he’s shipped off to the next camp? When he’s shot in the head by another soldier? What will you do?”
George’s blood boiled, making his face an angry scarlet. His knuckles- alabaster as they clenched onto the silk tablecloth. His mother beside him, gently applying his back as he gritted his teeth sardonically to the man he called his father.
How dare he say that?
“Don’t be foolish. He has none of the chances you have to avoid the draft. Might as well say your goodbyes-”
“ He won’t! ”
The dining room stilled for a moment. Nothing more than the piercing glares he and his father exchanged. The tension clouded over them both, metaphorical knives being drawn out as they pointed their swords at each other’s throats. He never challenged his father. He was known to be an obedient son. He never thought his first act of defiance would be this.
George broke that silence, hoping to end the fight. “He won’t. I’ll make sure of it.”
His father scoffed. “You can try.”
He looked George dead in the eye.
“War stops for no man.”
That was the last George heard of him before he stormed out the door.
George forced himself out of bed the next morning.
There was not much to it. All he could feel was the dread following him as he made his rounds around the house. Before dressing up in a pair of trousers and straps and heading out into town square.
There were many others there, all the young boys his age had been gathered in the heart of the pavilion. They’re eyes bloodshot and grim, as they held themselves lowly as if they wanted to become one with the earth to escape their inevitable demise. Some stood proud and tall, chins raised to the heavens as they stared death head-on.
One of them was Dream.
It hurt George to see him, dressed in the same clothes, meeting at the same place. Out of all the times he wanted to see his lover- now was not one of them.
He couldn’t bear to associate death with his Dream.
George made his way to his side, pressing himself firmly against his waist as they stood in neat little lines.
The blonde man looked down to him, holding his hand firmly as if he were to be swept by the wind any second. A sad smile played on his lips.
“We’ll be alright.” He muttered into George’s ear. George could only wish for it.
Soon, the sergeant came into view, and everyone’s backs straightened. A baited silence heaved over them- as they all tried to stifle the fear that arose in their chests. He was dressed in a myriad of medals, shining and glittering in the morning sun. Clad in the dark sea green, he eyed all the men in front of him. Clicking his teeth while doing so.
He sauntered over to the edge of the pavilion stairs and signalled the man closest to him to fetch a piece of parchment. Everyone watched in heavy anticipation as the sergeant ripped the official seal open and began to read.
“In regards to a great, prosperous country. I shall now be reading out the names of those to serve in our fight against our perilous foes, in this great show of power. We shall need every man we can get, to either win in this treacherous engage,
Or to die valiantly trying.”
George gulped as he turned his gaze back to Dream, who was staring straight ahead, wearing a mask of confidence and poise. George knew he too was scared, by the way, he squeezed George’s hand tightly.
George squeezed back, they can’t take him away.
The tension raised with every name yelled. George began to sift through his thoughts.
Dream was the oldest child in a family of six. That already lowered his chances by a hefty amount. They always never drafted only-children in their quaint town. He was also part of the middle class, making him easily replaceable in their society. And to add to all of that he was also in his twenties- no health complications nor physical disabilities.
Dream had crossed everything in the checklist. George could do nothing but listen as the names tricked by like seconds. With only the thought of Dream dying on his mind.
“George.” Dream admonished, “Don’t worry.”
Dream was already aware of the inevitable.
“How can I not?” George blurts, the words just begin tumbling out in a frantic attempt of reasoning. “How can I not worry when your life might be on the line? How can I possibly be calm--”
“ George. ” Dream hisses this time, and George promptly shuts his lips.
His green eyes gleam with unshed tears, it honestly jarred George. He’s never seen Dream cry once. Even at the most heartbreaking of novellas, when the characters die and the others mourn. He has never even spared a droplet of remorse. Dream doesn’t cry, George has already finalized that in his mind.
Dream doesn’t cry.
“I know.” His voice cracks at the end. “I know, George.”
Something inside George breaks a little bit more.
Dream’s always known.
He doesn’t even register the sergeant's booming voice when he yells out Dream’s name. He doesn’t even register the tears that begin trailing down his cheeks uncontrollably.
Dream always knew he was going to get drafted.
“This war will make young boys into men,” The sergeant proclaims, George doesn’t care less about what he’s saying.
“Good men die in war, but great men come out of it.”
The sergeant salutes, and everyone else follows suit. Next thing George knows, is that he is in a sea of men who are about to be marching to their inevitable demise. And it hurts George to know that the man beside him is one of them.
George doesn’t want to accept it.
It all happens incredibly fast.
It’s one thing when he’s standing motionless in an empty town square, still in shock. And it’s another when he’s in the train station- watching the new-made soldiers filter into the train carts and kiss their lovers goodbye.
It’s all moving too fast for him.
It’s not one day, where you wake up and all of a sudden the man you love is sent off into a battlefield, it's not one day you wake up and your entire life is ripped away from you.
Dream’s family surrounds him in the train station, his mother is openly sobbing her heart out at the sacrifice of her eldest. Whilst his dad stands tall like an oak in a storm. A singular tear falls from his eyes. All his younger siblings are crowding around George, his little sister is tightly pressed against his waist. Crying dainty tears into his slacks. His brother has a firm grasp on his shoulder, grounding both him and George.
George is the only one who isn’t crying.
“It’ll be alright darling.” Dream’s mother softly chides into his ear. George looks at her, distraught, his heart twists a little bit more at the sight of her red-rimmed eyes. He just can’t bring himself to cry.
“I hope.” Is all he replies.
The loud honk of the train alerts them all. Soon, all the young recruits step forward.
Dream is there, in a white shirt and dark pants. Hair ruffled and eyes bloodshot. The sergeant says something about short goodbyes. He watches as all the fresh soldiers start filtering towards their families.
George makes way for Dream’s mother, who jumps into her son’s embrace. Crying hysterically as he gently rubs her back. They share a short conversation in hushed whispers before his mother presses one last kiss on her son’s forehead and reluctantly lets go.
His siblings go next. His sister makes him swear to come back in one piece, and Dream laughs as he hooks his finger with hers. The second brother comes around, and Dream ruffles his hair, saying something along the lines of being the man of the house while he’s away. The boy shakes his head vigorously, waterworks tumbling out of his sockets as he does so.
Dream’s father says nothing. He simply nods at his son, and Dream can only smile back.
George can see Dream in the corner of his eye, as he slowly approaches him.
“Last minute! The train’s leaving in one minute!” The announcer’s voice echoes through the station.
Dream glances at him bashfully, the same shy look he offered when they first met in the library. Young, innocent and in love.
They were tragic.
“Not a lot of time, no?” Dream chuckled, shoving his trembling hands into the confines of his pants.
George turned to him, “No. It isn’t”
He had time to meet Dream, to slowly and painstakingly fall in love with him. He had spent hours and days endlessly adoring him, and for what? For this war to drag them apart. George, admittedly, wanted to spend the rest of his time with Dream. But the world just despises their happiness.
Dream smiled sadly. “I’ll write to you, every day- or how often I can I suppose.”
“I planned to as well. You still need to give me book recommendations anyways.”
The other man laughed, “Yeah, I guess I do.”
The atmosphere between them was tense, suspenseful even. As if it were like glass, fragile- and could break at the smallest rupture.
Dream looked at him with pleading eyes, “Georg-”
George strangled him in a hug.
Dream stumbled back, aghast. He looked at the smaller man for a second, desperately clinging onto him as if he were about to disappear for good. And really, in some way he was. A part of him would leave George forever, lost and alone.
Dream managed a weak chuckle, before wrapping his arms around George tightly. Memorizing every last bit of him. From how he always smells of books in the library. Or the way he fits so perfectly in his arms- as if they were made to be connected, body and soul. Dream wanted to memorize every part of him. So if he were to leave forever, he’d still go with the thought of George on his mind.
George finally started to cry.
In broken, full-body sobs racked through his body. As Dream held him tightly.
“D-Dream.” He managed in between his wails. The taller man simply shushed him gently, patting his brown locks with calloused fingers. “D-don’t go.”
“I have to.” Dream replied.
Good men die when they go to war-
"You'll die." The words hurt to say, as they sit rotten in his mouth. He can't help the tears that run down his cheeks afterwards.
They still had so many things to do, so many moments to spend together outside of a library. George had been so content- that he never even considered the war anymore.
Maybe it was his fault.
Dream smiled reassuringly, continuing to gently stroke George’s hair. “Don’t say that. I’m pretty tough you know.”
“I promise you. I promise I’ll come back.”
He promises , George thinks wistfully. He promises such a thing- to offer George his word on something, to uphold it. It’s as if he’s saying that he’ll give the world to him, travel to the moon and back. It’s as if he’s saying the impossible. What if he doesn’t fulfil it? What if he just leaves George with an aching heart and a space no one else can fill? What if he doesn’t come back?
That you’ll come home to me?
And as if he heard those unspoken words. Dream beams at him.
“I promise. You won’t even notice that I was gone, my love.”
George releases a wet and broken laugh at the cheesy pet name. Dream does too before pulls him back into his embrace.
They stay there for a bit. The war can wait.
“I promise I’ll be waiting.”
The train’s horn breaks their moment of momentary bliss, and the thought of war and death looms over them once again.
Dream reluctantly lets him go, George can feel the warmth leave his body when the other man’s arms fall off his waist. He is left bare, with his heart leaping out of his chest. The soldiers begin to file into lines as they enter the carts. Dream takes a step back, eyeing the rest of the men as they start to board the train.
George waves him off, tears still streaming down his face.
Before the blonde can even step onto the open doors, he runs back to where George is standing and kisses him firmly on the lips.
It's quick and a tad bit painful. Mixed with tears and heart wrenching passion, but it’s Dream. It's them, it’s him, it’s theirs.
It feels like a goodbye.
When Dream’s lips slowly lift from his, George feels bare once again, but this time there’s a small underlying hope hidden deep behind all his desperation. Like a spark of fire in the rain, it persists despite peril.
“I couldn’t leave without doing that.” He says breathlessly, brushing his nose against George’s.
“Do it again when you come back.”
He smiles, and George is taken back to the first time they met.
I really don’t know how to start this, I may be a man of many words yet I seem to lack that talent when it comes to you. Forgive me for the cheesiness, I know you hate it when I get all romantic on you.
How are you? I’ve received a letter from my parents saying that you frequent them more often now, mother says you look sullen even. You join them for lunch and supper from what I’ve heard. I’ll be blunt with you, George. Is there something wrong at home? You know you can tell me anything. I am your closest confidant, am I not?
Alright, I’ll stop talking about it. You wanted to hear from me, didn’t you?
I’ll be honest with you, George. It’s terrible.
I’m doing fine so far. Some of us are already dropping like flies, and it's just the training. They say we’ll never survive when we go out to the field. The exercises are absolutely brutal here, my limbs are sore all over.
We had shooting practice earlier. I was told I was born for a rifle. I didn’t want to hear that George. I don’t like holding such a weapon in my hand, one used to take lives. This war makes men into monsters, there’s no going back after you’ve committed such a crime. I don’t want to kill people. Not when they’ve been dragged into the same hell as me.
I’m afraid that if I were to kill someone- I would never come back the same.
Really messes with your psyche you know? But it’s what we have to do for the
country people. At least that's what the camp sergeant says to us.
I wanted to make this longer, but it’s as if some sort of curse came upon me that made it so the moment my pen touched the paper- I was completely devoid of thought. I’m sorry, I wish I had more words to say to you.
I hope you can forgive my lack of conversation, maybe the training is making me illiterate. I hope this letter finds you in the best of health, tell Terra and mom that I’ll be sending their letter soon enough, though they may think my priorities are a bit skewered if I’m sending yours first.
“To define is to limit.” - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. I left it next to my usual spot.
All my love,
That was a terrible way to start a letter, never do that again or else they’ll end up in the pyre.
I’m relieved to hear that you’re in good health, though your comrades seem to be lacking behind, as you mentioned. I’ve read in papers and articles by the square that they’re increasing the difficulty in their regiments to “ toughen up new recruits” . In my opinion, I find that utterly preposterous.
I see you’re already questioning your morality the first week in. Albeit, I’m glad that you are. I don’t fear that you’ll change, you’re too stubborn even for war.
Your heart is too pure, Dream.
I’m sorry, deeply so, that you have to go through all of this. If I could leave everything behind and run away with you is the life that I so desperately desire. But alas, we just can’t live our fantasies. If so, then we would have never had a war in the first place. I want to keep wishing, however, wishing that someday we’ll be happy again. I’ll wish that for both of us.
I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, it’s just the loss of your absence has been making me read a lot of sad poetics.
Tease me if you must, Louis Macneice’s works bring me comfort in your absence.
Regarding your parents. Yes, I am eating supper with them daily now. I find it easier than going back to mine, whose glares are like daggers piercing the back of my skull. Their scoffs test my patience. Your family had been ever so gracious to spend their time with me. And I must say, I’ve gotten incredibly fond of your siblings.
They remind me of you. Bold and brash, unafraid to speak their mind.
It hurts to see how much they resemble you.
Don’t worry, they’re behaving just fine.
I’m updated on every post and newspaper. The library is awfully quiet now without you.
It’s currently spring, and the marigolds and astilbes are in bloom. I saw a patch of them this morning. I had been bold enough to pick some up and press it, just to send to you (it's strapped along the back of the letter). It was- odd, I couldn’t stomach the fact that I was doing something so… feminine. It’s foolish of me to feel ashamed over such a mundane thing, but being here affords no room for such a delicate task. I don’t know what to think about it, my love. If you may, please console me.
I miss you. I miss you so much.
My heart yearns for the day I can cradle you in another embrace. I’m counting the seconds every day- until we may meet again. I’ve been watching the sunrises more often now, but their beauty seems bland in comparison to you. I’m sorry if this is all too straightforward, but
Do you miss me like I miss you?
With all my love,
It’s their last day in camp before they’re shipped off to the battlefield.
Tonight, he and his newfound comrades sit around a massive bonfire by the edges of their tents. They sing drunken songs from the liquor one of them managed to steal from the sleeping commander. Now, they’re exchanging stories.
Dream laughs at most of them. His brothers-in-arms craft expertly told tales of their hometowns, of their shenanigans as young boys.
There's one man in particular that Dream’s grown close with, he’s quite the handful- and is the one to get scolded the most by their commanding officers. Said man is currently prancing around the fire, going to each man and offering them a pint of whiskey.
“Loosen up boys! Tonight is our last day on earth!” Sapnap, an odd name really, Dream thinks to himself as he downs a shot.
A chorus of cheers echoed throughout the woods. Sapnap is the loudest out of all of them.
Sapnap and him met on day one when the other man had accidentally angered their drill sergeant to the point where steam flared out of his nose. The other man was forced to run 100 laps around the camp until the brink of dawn, and Dream who unfortunately stood beside him at the time was also forced to count how many laps Sapnap did until said brink of dawn.
It was a good way for them to bond and made them closer as comrades.
“Alright, alright lads. Enough with the childhood stories.” Sapnap shouted, making everyone else pipe down almost instantly. Truly one of a kind, Dream thought.
“So,” he said, taking a swig of liquor. “Anyone waiting back at home?”
Dream’s interest piqued, he glanced up from his pint.
“Oh! I’ve got a lovely lady waiting for me. Pretty little thing too.” One soldier exclaimed, the other men around him cried cheers and bumped shoulders playfully. Even Sapnap cracked a laugh at the man.
Dream could feel his blood run cold.
“I have one, she has been with me ever since diapers. Miss her dearly.” An older comrade remarked, getting sympathetic pats on the back from everyone around him.
Dream felt the panic rise in him, even amongst his fellow comrades, he knew he couldn’t mention George to the. They were just too peculiar for the likes of others. And as much as Dream wanted to gush over the man waiting for him back home-- he knew his words would ultimately fall short.
Dream had a million words for George, how his laugh was sweet like nectar. How he smelled like the books he loved so dearly. George was his home, he’s the saving grace that clears Dream’s thoughts of the impending fight. He was sanctuary and grace.
If loving George is wrong, then Dream never wants to be right.
Soon, the fire dwindles down to just a mere ember, and most of the men around him are snoring away without a care in their messed-up world. Dream glances up to the sky, he watches the stars. How they twinkle and gleam like gemstones of the skies inky black night. He focuses on how they remind him of his faraway lover’s eyes.
Dream’s head falls back down, he looks to Sapnap. Who’s cradling a single pint of alcohol, as he huddles against the dying fire’s warmth. Dream hums in response.
“What is it?” He asks, his soft voice is almost lost in the sudden breeze that passes by them, making the fire crackle ominously.
Sapnap doesn’t miss a beat.
“Do you have anyone waiting back at home?”
The other man notices how he flinches ever so slightly and continues.
“You’ve never mentioned anyone, yet, you always send two letters out by the post. One is definitely for your family, and the other?”
The blonde gulps, it feels like a rock has been weighed on his tongue, rendering him mute.
“I also hear you giggling late at night in the barracks, and when we’re cleaning up. There’s always at least one letter or so hidden under your pillow.”
Dream looks at Sapnap, eyes frantic and hands shaking. He quickly shoves them in his pant pockets, if he notices- he’ll blame it on the cold.
He’ll find a way to get out. He always has.
“C’mon dude, I bet she’s great.”
George is great.
“Dream, just like- tell me how you met so I at least have a clear understanding of what she’s like y’know? I just wanna know the lucky lass who stole my best friend’s heart.” Sapnap softly chides, it’s weak and soft and almost gets lost in the sound of the crackling fire and harsh breeze. But Dream can hear it, he can hear the vulnerability laying within its undertones.
He sighs, it’s just Sapnap.
And Dream has a lot of words about George anyways.
“Well h- she and I… met in a library.” The words feel like poison on his mouth. He abhorred the fact that he talks about his beloved as if he were some dirty little secret.
He glances to Sapnap, heart beating inside his ears. His muscles slowly ease when he sees the other man nod at him encouragingly.
“We met in a library.” Dream stops for a second, trying to collect his words. “She was too short to reach the top shelf where the book she wanted was. I had to come in and grab it for her.”
Dream chuckles as he gains more confidence to continue. “She found the note I kept in the book too, and after that, it sort of just-- happened. I went back every day to see her, and every day she was always there. Book in hand and always bearing such a beautiful smile. I think that's what got me through the war.”
Dream feels his muscles form into a fond smile on his lips, he tilts his head back once again and looks to the skies. Who’s stars remind him of his faraway lover’s eyes.
“I fell in too deep by the time I realized I loved her.”
He turns back his gaze to Sapnap. Who's grin was so large it looked almost painful. The other man stood up clumsily and sauntered his way over to Dream.
“Well,” He slurs, clasping a firm hold on his shoulder.
“You sure do smile a lot when you talk about him.”
Before Dream can even notice the change in pronouns, Sapnap is already laughing hysterically as he walks back to camp.
“I caught a glimpse of one of the letters you sent. George right?”
Dream opens his mouth-- but no words come out. He just stands there, dumbfounded and appalled as Sapnap wheezes his lungs out by the clearing.
“Don’t let go of him alright? You lovebirds got so much ahead of you!” Sapnap yells out, before sprinting back to camp. Leaving Dream, and the chilling breeze to soothe his sorrows. It ruffles through his hair, and prickles at his skin ever so slightly- his heart feels content. Not happy per se, just calm .
He sighs deeply, a condense foggy cloud escapes his lips.
“Don’t let go, huh?” He whispered into the cold of night, for no one to hear but himself.
He takes his hand out of his pocket and holds it close to his heart. He slowly opens his palm, and in it resides a single dry pressed astilbe flower that came in one of George’s former letters.
He kisses it softly, hoping his feelings would go past the boundaries of what the human communication could provide. He prays- that no matter how far George may be, he’ll be able to feel the boundless love Dream has for him.
“I never planned to.”
I’ll keep this short and sweet, since I may not have that much time to write to you as often now. I hope you may take my words close to heart, and cherish them dearly, as much as I do to yours.
We had a farewell party of sorts tonight- I’d say farewell since most of us are getting deployed in many different places on the battlefield.
But don't fret, my love. I write to you in hope, which is the best one can do in wartime. We will see each other once again, and I will love you so much that you'll forget what it was like without me. I'm sure of it.
We talked about lovers tonight, George.
It hurt me when I realized I couldn’t talk of you. I wanted to sing praises of you, talk endlessly until the words I say lose meaning. I wanted to say how much I adored you to these men I consider brothers.
I yearn for the day our love will not be judged but acknowledged and accepted. I want to scream my adoration from you from the rooftops, I want for us to wear wedding rings and be unashamed to call each other lovers. I want to be able to love you fully as you deserve, but until then, these letters will be a testament to my devotion to you.
I’ll be home soon, my love. And when I get home, I promise I’ll never leave again.
You have my heart,
George is at his parents’ house again.
Seeing it’s lavish walls and gaudy interior makes his skin crawl. Sometimes, he can’t even believe he grew up in such a place. Where the floors were sleek marble, and the walls were higher than most buildings. It screamed the wealth of the lavish aristocrat family.
George scoffed, as he pushed passed the doors and power walked his way through the various rooms. He was sauntering his way to the dining room, where his parents had asked him yet again for another dinner.
He remembers the words of his mother vividly.
She had come to the library abruptly one day. George instantaneously noticed her presence by the click of her heels and the way she radiated a powerful, dominating presence. He sat up quickly in his seat by the window sill. Looking at her with wide eyes as she slowly approached him.
“What do you want?” He hissed, grounding himself firmly on his seat. His mother looked at him wearily.
“Have you been eating?” She asked, voice light and soft. George looked at her curiously.
“Why do you care.”
Suddenly, his mother slams her heel into the ground. Suddenly distraught as she yells;
“ George! I just want to know how you’ve been-- You never visit anymore. Your father and I have been worried sick- we thought you’ve been starving yourself--”
“I’m having dinner with Dream’s family.”
The silence that follows his statement is almost jarring. George stares dead straight into his mother’s eyes. They’re glassed over with something akin to fear. George promptly takes a step back, his feet hitting the wall behind him as he staggers in shock.
He never talked back to his mother.
She hastily clears her throat, before returning to her tall, upright position. He can see the faintest bit of hurt in her eyes, but it’s mostly glazed over by her cold demeanour.
“Your father and I expect you to be at dinner with us tomorrow evening. 6 pm sharp.” She says crudely, voice sharp like cutting glass.
George flinched, “And what if I refuse?”
He wonders where this newfound confidence came from. It was rare enough for him to decline any offer from his parents. But outright refusing so crudely like this? It seemed even his mother was shocked at his sudden inner rebellion.
He could pride himself on Dream teaching him to stand up for himself.
His mother smiled, tight-lipped and forced as she said “Please? For your poor, old mother?”
George gulped, the tone her voice was reminiscent of when he was a child. When she used to weave flower crowns for him in the back of their lawn. Or when she softly chided him comfort whenever his father would yell at him. He felt a sudden guilt raise in him, she was morphing herself into the mother that George loved.
And he was falling for it.
He turned to the side, hoping to avert himself from her pleading figure, but she saw the power she had over him and persisted.
“I just want to see my son again.”
George sighed, as he pushed past the doors leading to the dining room. Immediately, the warm scent of a childhood filled his nose, making him smile unknowingly. The heat of the delicious soup he would always use to eat as a child warmed his stomach and eased his nerves.
His mother cooked his favorite tonight.
George looked onwards- and his smile fell.
There sat his father, at the end of the long elaborate table, on his left was George’s mother. And beside her was two others, a man dressed in the same lush coattails as his father, and a woman, adorned in gems and rhinestones.
“We have guests?” He asked, pushing down the venom in his voice. His mother’s eyes flash towards him, he could catch the faintest glint of guilt within them.
“Yes,” His father’s voice booms over the dining room. George’s gaze snaps to him.
He coughs into his fist for a moment, clearing his throat before he gestures to the two strangers sitting beside his mother.
“This is Sir. Buchanan of York, and his daughter Abigail. They’re old friends of mine, do mind being hospitable tonight?” His father coaxes. From the other side of the table, George visibly sneers.
He is a fish caught in a cage made of the aristocratic lifestyle. His father, the keeper. And right now he’s offering him to the sharks. George gulps down the rock in his throat, he can do this.
It’s only for tonight anyway.
“Good evening Sir. Buchanan, Ms. Abigail.” He says curtly.
He glances back to his mother, who is understandably, keeping her head down to avoid George’s sharp glares. He sighs, pulling himself a seat on the other end of the table. So he’s facing his father head-on.
They watch each other like hawks, skimming for the weakness and vulnerability of their prey. Soon the maids come in with steaming bowls of soup, his favorite made of vegetables and cornflowers. He lets himself ease into his seat a little and takes a deep inhale of the delectable aroma.
The only sound is the clinking of silverware, and the quiet humming of Ms. Abigail as she happily eats her stew.
George thinks she’s a direct comparison to her father, Sir. Buchanan is stiff and serious, only taking meagre sips of his meal. Meanwhile, his daughter has a cheek splitting smile on his delicate face as she downs each spoonful.
“Your stew is absolutely delicious Ms. Davidson, you are quite the chef.” Ms. Abigail says to George’s mother across the table. Her dainty fingers making gestures of excitement as she does so.
His mother smiles, putting her hand against her cheek. “Thank you, dear, it’s George’s favorite.”
Ms. Abigail’s face instantly lights up, as she turns her head to George with a beaming smile. “It’s wonderful, thank you for inviting us by the way.”
George tries to smile back, but it just ends up looking awkward and forced. “Thank you.”
“Abby is right, thank you for inviting us to the countryside, Henry. It’s nice to get away after being so close to the war.” Sir. Buchanan adds, setting down his spoon. He clasps his hands over the table in a formal-like manner.
“It’s nothing Robert, it was awfully courteous of you to accept it as well on such short notice. I hope the union will go smoothly at best.” George’s father says.
Union? George thinks while slowly sipping at his soup. He eyes Sir. Buchanan, who laughs so jovially it shakes the table.
“Anything old friend! I assure you the union will go its say, Abby here is quite a lady-”
“I’m sorry but-- what union do you mean?” George interjects mid-conversation. Somewhere in him, he knew he would get scolded by his father if there weren’t so many people around. But George was braver now, more brash after things. He spoke confidently, making everyone around him glance from their food.
“George-” His mother started, but George couldn’t even handle the sound of her voice by this point.
“Father.” He interrupts roughly, squeezing the silverware in his hand tightly. “What do you mean by union?”
A pregnant pause falls over them, with George gritting his teeth anxiously at the look of apprehension on his father’s face.
And then he speaks,
“Your union with Ms. Abigail Buchanan of course.”
He says it with a smile too, as if testing him. George is at a loss for words, his spoon falls from his grasp and clatters onto the ground, making a loud noise.
He sits there, jaw slacked and filled with incomprehensible emotions. The soup in front of him is now cold, and now every time he looks at it- he feels sick. It only tastes of betrayal and manipulation from his mother.
His father raises an eyebrow. “You heard me. You are to be wed to Abigail Buchanan” He stops and looks off to the side in contemplation. “End of autumn perhaps? What do you think Robert?”
“An autumn wedding sounds lovely.” Sir. Buchanan agrees, patting the shoulder of his daughter.
George snaps at her. His supposed wife is looking down at her stew with a look George cannot decipher. He doesn’t know what to feel towards this. Angry? At who? Sad? Why should he be, he had no right to be upset. Then what should he be feeling?
He looks back to his father.
“I promise you. I promise I’ll come back.”
His father stands up abruptly, slamming his hands on the table. Making the cutlery around them clatter. Abigail flinches, shielding her head with her hands to avoid the droplets of soup that managed to fly out of the bowls. His face was beet red, mouth forming into a feral snarl as he glared daggers at George.
“You shall not refuse.” He hissed, hands curling around the table’s linen sheets.
George didn’t waver. He stood tall even through the fear. “I will, you have no authority over me.”
His father scoffed, clicking his tongue. “I am your father-”
“Then I am not your son.” He barked back.
The man he considered his childhood hero, his own flesh and blood, was forcing him to a matrimony he never wanted. He didn’t even consider the repercussions it would cause on him. To be wed to a woman he never even met until today- it seemed like something out of the books in the library. Utterly barbaric, he scoffed.
“George-- please. There are many benefits to this union. The chances of you getting drafted for example. Ms. Abigail would also be more at safety if she moved into our side of the country. Far away from the war.” His mother pleaded.
George could feel his stomach twist at her words. She was painting him as the mediator once again, putting him in the place to make the decisions. Slowly, his despise towards her grew.
“You know I can’t do that.”
I promise I’ll wait for you.
“I made a promise.”
His mother’s face turns sour, eyebrows furrowed in distaste. She knows exactly what he’s talking about.
He curtly stands up, shaking the cutlery on his side on the table. He looks down to the soup below him, cold and suddenly tasteless. He feels sick in his stomach, bile rising in his throat. How could they do this to him?
They knew about Dream, yet why?
“I’m sorry,” He says softly while walking towards the exit doors, he looks to Abigail, who’s timidly clutching her handkerchief. “I wouldn’t be able to love you either way.”
With that, he leaves what he knew of his family behind.
It’s Sir. Buchanan who visits him late at night.
There’s a knock on George’s door somewhere around midnight. Luckily enough, if George wasn’t awake rereading A picture of Dorian Gray then he wouldn’t have heard it at all.
He stumbles through his living room, still half asleep as he manages to turn the doorknob open, letting the freezing air into his abode. He shives, promptly bringing his arms closer to his chest to huddle for warmth.
He looks forward into the cold, making out a familiar figure of the posh suit that reminded him of his father. Only it wasn’t him, he was too tall to be George’s father. He also held himself in the way that only high commoners would.
“Sir. Buchanan?” He inquires. The man in front of him grunts visibly shivering in the cold. George notices this and ushers him inside.
“Tell me what you want over some tea.”
Sir. Buchanan graciously lets himself inside, with George following behind.
“Take a seat by the living room. I’ll be with you shortly.” George murmured. Sir. Buchanan gave him a grateful smile before making his way further into George’s house.
He stood there for a moment, staring at the boiling tea kettle as it made small dispute sounds. His mind was a hazy mess when he got back to the living room, in arm with a tray of two cups of steaming jasmine tea.
“Here.” He said as he offered a now warmer Sir. Buchanan on his sofa. The older man took it and whispered a soft thanks before bringing the porcelain cup to his lips.
George sat on the other side, next to the crackling hearth. His copy of Dorian Gray laying on the side of his armchair. He looked over to the other man, eyeing him warily before speaking.
“Why are you here, Sir. Buchanan?”
The older man stopped sipping his tea, and soon the silence of the room overlapped them. George watched as he fiddled with the rim of his cup, notably anxious.
“I’ll be frank with you, George Davidson.” He sighed, “I want you to join in union with my daughter.”
His eyes widened, he opened his mouth the give the same answer-
“Your mother made me aware of your previous affiliations. I don’t intend to give you a sudden change of heart, however.”
The two of them sat in silence, a sudden heartsickness came over him.
“The reason your parents agreed to a union in the first place, was in hopes that you would forget and move on from your previous lover.” Sir. Buchanan finished.
George sat there, overcome once again by the sudden emotion he could not name.
“I don’t mean for you to move on- I don’t even intend for you to have any feelings for Abby in the first place. All I ask from you is that you marry her only for the benefit of her safety. So that she may be as far away from the fight as possible.”
George watched- appalled. As the high-class aristocrat man began grovelling before him. Asking, pleading, begging for him to help them. George felt this sudden sense of responsibility fall over him. It weighed on his chest heavily, suffocating him.
Forgive me, he thought to himself wistfully. Creating the image of Dream in his mind, bright and colorful as he laughed. George could still remember every single intricate freckle, he could still remember how mirth danced in his viridian eyes. You would have wanted me to.
He looked back to the grovelling man beneath his feet.
“Please, from one wayward heart to another.”
I have no other way to put this my love, but I accepted a union.
I had no choice, she's a woman living near the border of the war with her father. And if I were to accept her proposal- then they would have guaranteed safety with my parents. I did it for their safety.
I'm sorry, I'm so immensely sorry. I pleaded with them, begged, but there was no other option available. My love- I'm sorry.
You are my stars as if my love for you.
Nothing will ever change that. I love you like the sun loves the moon longing from a distance longing for things I did not know. Dearest, I will love you despite peril and brimstone. I will love you despite distance and time. I will love you despite circumstance.
Even if my heart is legally signed to another. It still beats for you.
Dream, my love, my dearest, my beloved.
All my better days are spent with you.
I'm still waiting, I always will. I'll be here to greet you when you come home. I promised.
I love you. Never forget that
my heart only belongs to you
War is a terrible, terrible thing.
Dream is sitting in the back of a moving army truck, surrounded by many other soldiers. They’re covered in dirt and grime from their last station, invaded by enemies lines, their numbers have greatly decreased.
Dream can feel the strain of sleepless nights on scouting duty finally take its toll. He rubs his weary eyes with calloused fingers, ones caused by shooting guns this time. He lets his body relax for a moment, he’s been on edge for months now, constantly watching if the enemy would come out.
He reaches into the pockets of his pants, he fiddles around for a bit before finally managing to finally take out a wad of primly wrapped letters.
He’s kept them close ever since.
He unravels them carefully, hoping not to soil the delicately handwritten letters. Inside some of them are an arrangement of dry pressed flowers. Ranging from old, dull maroon gladiolus’, to more recent and vibrant yellow irises. Dream has kept them all even when they wilted and decayed. He’s compiled them into this little sanctuary to keep close with him.
With nimble fingers, he pries open the newest letter, the ones that have dried tear stains on them.
He reads it, absorbing every word, running his thumb over every teardrop
His heart breaks a little bit more with every word.
He hates it. He doesn’t know what exactly he hates in question though, there’s just something ugly and wrenching filling him up.
He hates how sad George sounds in this letter, how his tears blur some of the ink at times. He hates how he keeps recalling his promise as if he feels indebted to him. He hates that George is unhappy overall.
He wishes he could go back- go back and envelop his faraway lover in a tight embrace and never let go. He wishes he can kiss him on the lips so tightly that he forgets what it’s like to be alone. He wishes, for a world without war, and life where he and George have their own small library in their house, with a hearth to kindle next too.
He wishes so much.
“Last stop before frontline. Better say your goodbyes now.” The driver of the army truck announces loudly. All the men begin to filter out of the cart, their eyes clouded over with a sense of seriousness.
And before he knows it, he’s the last one left in the cart.
He holds the letters close to his chest, crumpling the fraying edges and staining it with the soot of war.
He’d burn bridges to be with him.
Dream eyes the men outside, readying their refiles and shining their boots. These men are preparing to die in this unfair march. He wonders who are men like him, who enter this war to come out alive back to the people waiting for them. He wonders if there are men with a purpose.
Dream doesn’t want to be the only one.
Slowly, he reaches for a piece of parchment in his rucksack, and an almost worn out lead pencil. And with a baited sigh, he writes what he hopes isn’t his last letter to the man he loves.
There’s something I want to tell you- something I cannot convey verbally and stead the words on this paper will carry. With every word in this letter transcends whatever boundaries communication may have on us, and lets you feel the aching love I pour into it.
My love. I hope this isn’t my last letter, but in case it is I want you to know that you are not entitled to me.
You do not belong to me, George.
Your heart is yours to own, it does not singularly beat for me. It's a beautiful and spacious thing, meant to hold the world.
You deserve someone who can kiss you every day and remind you how much they are utterly infatuated by you. You deserve someone who can kiss you without the shame of others weighing them down. You deserve love from the greatest of places, from the highest of heaven. You deserve better, George.
You deserve a love I cannot give.
Every hour seems to enhance your loveliness. It frightens and amazes me somewhat. It reminds me that it’s easier to love you, rather than to let you go.
I won’t let you go, George.
Even if your heart makes room for another- or takes my place entirely. I wouldn’t mind.
If I’m gone, George. I would’ve wished for you to be happy.
There are still so many books I want you to read however, I heard Agatha Christie published another work. I’d love to read it with you again.
Don’t wait for me. I know you promised but- sometimes things just don’t go our certain ways. Fate’s funny like that.
I love you, George. I’ll tell you that again and again until our words lose meaning. I love you so much to the point where I forget what it’s like to be alone. I love you like the sun dies every night to let the moon breathe. I love you until you stop loving me.
The war wages on, but my love for you will never waver.
I love you, George.
Don’t wait up on me, ok?
The moment George receives the next letter, he promptly runs to the train station.
It’s crumpled and slightly torn in his hands. It still smells of smoke and ash- but somewhere he could faintly make the familiar sandalwood that he associates with his faraway lover.
“They are choosing people from the trenches, people they can send back home. The slightly deranged and the injured go first. I can’t rest assured knowing that I might see you again--”
Dream is coming home. He’s coming home to him.
He’s heaving heavy pants of breath as he stands in the middle of the bustling train station. He’s just one of the hundreds who have gotten a letter regarding the transfer. It’s buzzing with the most life he’s ever seen from the sleepy town. Women are holding their babies by the tracks while watching with hawk-like attention. Their husbands wait in the back, George can see how their strong, calloused hands tremble and quiver with an underlying fear.
George is also scared, but at the same time, he’s more on than ecstatic.
He waits with the crowd, he holds a bated breath when the train comes in. It’s filled with men whose eyes are shadowed over. Their faces are dark and grim. George remembers when they were just boys when they were like him.
His eyes scan them, as they exit out of the carts. He watches them, as they run to their lovers and spin them around in the air, kissing them firmly on the lips. He listens as laughter and cries of happiness bounce around the station like waves of euphoria.
He waits, for his wayward heart to come tumbling out of the next cart. With a grin so familiar it sends him back to the library by the town square. George thinks he would be smiling- Dream is always smiling.
He would run out, hair slightly longer than what he remembers, and he would pick George up like the rest of the soldiers, spin him around and kiss him firmly on the lips. He would come, and George knows he will.
So he waits.
He waits, as the families around him begin to filter out of the exit doors little by little. He waits when the train finally leaves and moves onto the next station. He waits, even when the clear cerulean skies transition to a dark navy and the stars finally come out of hiding.
There's a singular lightbulb above him, and the buzzing of electricity is all he can hear coming out of it.
The cold, late-December breeze makes him shiver, his skin prickles in the cold as he exhales small clouds from his colorless lips.
“If I don’t come, please do not wait for me. I wouldn’t want you to spend your precious time holding up on a dead man.”
He’s still waiting.
Maybe he’s too caught up in his self-pity to even notice that another person has entered the train station. He can hear the click of their heels as they get closer and closer- until George is for certain that they’re standing directly in front of his side.
He doesn’t turn to her, but he knows it’s her by the floral scent of the perfume she always bears. He can see how she glances over him from his peripheral vision, the concerned look swirls in her stormy dark eyes. He can’t meet her gaze.
He’s fallen too deep for another- to even make room in his heart for her.
A soft hum cascades out of her lips. “Are you waiting for someone?”
“Yes,” is all he replies, trying to focus his aching heart on the train tracks below.
She hums again, this time, George spares her a glance over his shoulders. She moves to his right, wordlessly waiting with him by the train tracks. She’s wearing a dark burgundy coat, and a long black skirt. Clad in the colors of mourning.
George doesn’t know what they’re mourning for.
“Is it someone you care about?” She whispers this time, George barely hears her- voice lost in the breeze.
“Yes,” he doesn’t hesitate.
Don’t wait up on me, ok?
How can he? He promised.
Is Dream breaking his promise?
It’s silent for a moment, and by then all George can hear is the hum of the light bulb and the comforting rustle of the leaves as the cold air drifts by them. He thinks how bitterly this scene plays out from a piece of poetry.
“Do you love them?” Is all she asks, eyes fully pressed to the tracks ahead. No incoming train, no soldiers coming home. No Dream.
His silence is enough of an answer for her.
A broken sound escapes his wife’s lips, George feels remorseful but he knows he can’t show it. He can’t lead her on any further than he already has.
He might never be able to love her in the way that she wants him too- but he can provide her with the company she so desperately seeks. So now they both stand there by the train tracks. The war has changed them both, for better or for worse.
They wait, until the late December night slowly becomes a new day, and the sun rises from the treetops. They enjoy each other’s silent reassurance as both their aching hearts wait for a non- existent train to come till’ sunrise.
They’re both waiting for someone who probably won’t come.
George breaks a little bit more.
They’re in the trenches.
Dream can hear the shouts of his officers overhead, as debris from earlier grenade explosions scatters around them. He ducks his head, using his hands to cover the incoming pebbles and rocks that come raining down on them.
His vision is slightly blurred at the sides. When he grabs his rifle and positions his body straight on to take a shot straight into one of the enemy soldier’s heads.
The feeling of guilt and dirtiness has long passed and have ceased to worry him. He’s discovered that you feel less shame in taking a life when they so desperately want to take yours. He learned that the hard way, a bullet to the calf more or so.
He’s learned to be merciless.
He takes six consecutive shots, all of them hitting their targets almost perfectly. He feels a sense of pride rise in him when one of his commanding officers shouts out his name in recognition. He readies his rifle again, proceeding to down another half a dozen.
It's brutal out here, but if they push a little bit more. Then the war will be over soon enough.
He knicks in new bullets into his gun smoothly, it’s practically instinctual by now, his rifle just feels like an extension to his body now. He breathes with its inner workings and releases its gunpowder.
“Just a little bit more lads! We’re about to breach!” Sapnap yells from the other side of the trench. A war cry runs through all of them, as they simultaneously clock their guns and take position.
They all line up their shots, straight into the fortified base on the other side.
They just need this- they have to take over this piece of the field. Then the war would be won, for the country, for their children, for their homes.
Dream takes a deep breath, inhaling the smog and iron taste of blood. The dry pressed flowers and tear-stained letters in his chest pocket feel heavier now. They ground him back to earth, reminding him of his mortal limitations. Give him his sanity.
He takes the first shot.
“Everyone out! Ambush! Ambush-”
Dream goes into a roll, everyone around him sets off in a state of panic and hysteria. He dodges the sudden incoming gunshots from above, ducking behind one of the corners of their makeshift cubby holes.
Dream watches in frantic fear. As enemy troops start descending from above. Invading the trench.
That’s why they weren’t fighting back- they planned an attack from behind.
He hears the cries of his fellow brother-in-arms as they are shot down like flies, bullet holes littering their bodies as they drop dead onto the ground. He can feel the bile rise in his stomach, he pushes it down- he knows now is not the time to panic.
He can find a way to get out. He always has.
Dream looks around him for any exits, but everywhere he turns he can see the colors of enemy uniforms. Parading their guns and shooting his comrades. Dream can’t see any possible exit hole in sight.
He can find a way to get ou-
He hears the sound of foreign tongue yell out. He snaps his head behind him and sees a battalion of soldiers pointing their guns towards him. He promptly gets up from his hiding spot- and does the only thing he can do.
He manages to dodge at least a dozen bullets while doing so, some barely grazing his skin as they whip past them. He throws down a wall of cover, in hopes to slow down the men behind him as he keeps running and running. He gins victoriously when he hears their cries of struggle from behind.
Panting heavily, he finally runs into the end of the long and extensive trench. He’s met with a dead-end of ground. With nowhere else to go- he glances upwards to the skies. There, he can see a few footholds and ledges that he could use to climb out. Leading him to what could be safety.
He can find a wa-
He begins to make his way onto the footholds, interlocking his hands with the hard ledges of the sharp rock. He doesn’t care if his hands prick and bleed onto the material. The taste of freedom is so sweet it’s sickening.
He can fi-
The voices approach closer, as Dream stumbles on his climb. He looks back behind him, only to see the faces of unknown enemy troops point their guns at him and-
He feels a sharp puncture in his abdomen.
Dream instantly lets go of the ledge- and next thing he knows is that he’s falling onto the blood-stained ground below.
He hits his head, causing his vision to abruptly fade in and out. He weakly lifts his hand to his abdomen and lifts it up to his face.
There’s blood, bright scarlet in the evening sun as it shines down on him. Warm and almost comforting. He feels nothing thankfully, his physical pain is nothing compared to the crushing disappointment he feels weighing down on him as he lifts his hand to the sky.
He’s suddenly reminded of the bloodstained dry pressed flowers in the pocket of his shirt. He brings down his bloodied hand onto his chest, rummaging around for the bundle of letters in his clothes.
He faintly hears footsteps approaching his fallen body, they talk in a foreign language Dream simply cannot understand. They poke around at his body with the butt of their rifles almost teasingly. Dream doesn’t even have the strength to spit on them.
Dream looks up to the sky, it’s clear and bright cerulean despite the disgusting acts done under it. He looks up to the sun, blinding and bright as it shines its beaming rays onto him. Ethereally so. A white light shines over, alluring him to look closer.
He clutches the wad of tear-stained letters and dry pressed flowers firmly, it’s the only thing left.
The whispers come back, and soon his vision is filled with white.
the front is getting worse and worse as the days go by. smoke and debris muffle the sweet sunlight, and I fear that melancholy will settle in its wait. warfare rages on around me as I write this, and I'm afraid. Death has torn through my infantry - less than ten of us remain, among us my closest brother. Sapnap has comforted me, but he is but a boy. war is so unfair, but what in life is just?
I write this letter, to give if I never kept my promise. A last resort of sorts.
I write this under the moonlight in hopes that salvation will grace me. I am damned, doomed to the deepest pits of hell, and I accept it wholeheartedly. They have tried to crush my spirit or to stain my love for you, but it will never work. I love you so much, George. I will withstand a bullet to the chest because my love for you will never die, even as I move to the next stage of this strange thing we call existence.
I'm afraid that tomorrow will never come. time is running out for me on the front, so I'm afraid that this will have to be a farewell. I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise, but I have but one life to sacrifice, and if my life furthers our victory, so be it. this is a decision not easily met, nor is it one easily accepted. I don't expect you to forgive me for a while, but if I could ask for one thing, it would be for you to live and prosper even without me. you have so much ahead of you my love, and I don't want to hinder the life you could have lived. instead, take my love and further it onto your children and your wife, love them as you have loved me.
please, never forget me.
“The war is over.”
He’s sitting in the pavilion, huddling close to the shade of its tall ceiling while reading The Age of Innocence. When his mother strolls over ahead of him, parasol in hand with a contemplative look on her worry worn features.
George doesn’t bother to look up from his book. “I know. I saw it on the paper, it’s everywhere now.”
His mother doesn’t skip a beat.
“How’s Abigail?” She asks, spinning the hold of her parasol.
“She’s visiting York again, says she wanted to meet up with someone after the war.”
His mother is silent for a moment until a quiet “Oh.” escapes her lips.
It’s quiet again, with the only sound being the rustle of the summer breeze filtering through the trees. And the momentary chirp of birds coming ever so often. His mother simply watches the trees sway, as she takes a hesitant stand beside him by the stairs.
He doesn’t acknowledge her presence. He’s long forgotten how to care.
Soon, she finally asks the question George knows she’s been meaning too.
“How about that boy?” She inquires softly, almost lost in the breeze and chirps of the birds.
George doesn’t know what to answer her.
“I’m waiting.” Is all he says, firmly clutching on the edges of his book.
His mother hums comfortingly, setting down her parasol.
“Waiting is a hard thing, especially when you don’t know when they’ll come back.” She chides gently. “We can only leave ourselves in one place for so long before we start moving to the next.”
George whips his head to her. Eyes wide at the meaning of her words.
“I promised him I would-”
“George.” She looks at him, George's breath hitches when he sees the sad look on her face. “Promises are a futile thing sometimes. They’re words created to bond to people together on something they plan or are sure of doing.”
Her eyes glaze with pity. “Your bond as people are already enough of a promise. Words are only the sentimental part of it.”
George sits there, dumbfounded by her words. “What do you mean?”
She sighs deeply, old and weary as she replies.
“You’ll never need promises when you love someone, you’ll already have their word for it the moment you start loving them.”
She smiles sadly. “Sometimes promises are better broken so that they don’t leave people waiting for them to be fulfilled.”
The peaceful quiet starts again- this time the wind rustles louder and brushes against his face more harshly. Flipping the pages of his book. He looks back up to his mother, who already begins slowly walking away.
He stands up, fumbling his way down the stairs as he calls out to her. “But what does that-”
She turns to meet his gaze. “It means that you have so much more to do, George.”
She turns her back and begins to fade out of sight. Leaving George with a crumpled book, a wonted heart, and billion more questions.
I don’t really know how to start this letter. I wrote it on impulse late at night- yes I know you wouldn’t enjoy me writing late at night, but can’t you make an exception for once?
I actually don’t plan on sending this one. I wrote it more or so in a way of coping in your absence filling up some extra time. So please forgive how crudely written they are. I really do feel a bit weary during the late at night.
How are you? Wait no, that’s stupid. You’re not reading this, I forgot.
I’m doing well, or at least my definition of well has become a bit skewered over the past few months. I would say I’m living past each day with determination. A sliver of hope would be a more accurate description maybe. Either way, I’m in good health and still having supper with your family.
More and more soldiers come home. I visit the station every day to see if you’ll be one of them. Alas, I come back with nothing more than an aching heart and another pair of astilbes to press.
As long as the trains keep coming, I’ll be there.
I’ll be waiting. Even though I’ve said it more than a hundred times- I feel as if I need to say it to remind myself. I’ll be waiting.
My love for you does not diminish or decay with time.
I’m sorry for how short this one is. I’ll do better next time.
I got in a fight with my parents today, again, unfortunately.
Mother was being her normal docile self as usual again, and Father was the usual pretentious you expected. Only this time it was about my so-called “wife”
Abigail is a wonderful person, she’s sweet and is also an avid reader. Only, I sense that she too also has a faraway lover somewhere in York. From how her visits are prolonged into weeks, how she always comes back with a smile. It’s the look of a lovelorn woman.
I’m happy for her. Although father doesn’t entirely agree with the whole idea of not loving your spouse in marriage.
How could we? Not when both of our hearts are already taken.
Yes, I know you’ve told me before that I shouldn’t feel entitled to you- or that my heart is an open room and I should feel hospitable enough to let everybody in, but the thing is that I don’t want to.
I don’t want to make room for anybody else, because it’s already completely yours.
I don’t need anybody else.
Even if my father berates me relentlessly, even if he questions my loyalty. I wouldn’t waver. Not when I have something to stand to fight for once.
I love you because you make me feel like I mean something to someone.
You made me who I am with your unmetered care and affections
Anyways, I attached some alstroemeria this time. I read somewhere that they mean friendship.
You are, and always will be, my closest confidant.
The war has been over for officially three weeks now, and everyone in town is celebrating with an elaborate party by the square. They’ve invited everyone for this moment of joy and rehabilitation.
The war has been over for three weeks.
I feel as if I need to repeat that to myself.
I read in some newspapers and articles that they’re finding soldiers, taken hostage by the enemy and keeping them hidden in their camps. Could you possibly be there Dream? I pray to any god out there that you aren’t- but something inside me wishes you were. It gives me hope that you’re still out there.
War is a terrible, terrible thing, my love.
I bought Agatha Christie’s newest book for you. Although, I wouldn’t do it justice since I fell asleep halfway through. I never understood your love for her writing, but then again, you are the one with better taste as you quote.
I must confess, I haven’t gone to the library in a handful of weeks now. There’s just something about it that causes me such extreme heartsickness. Every time I step in, I’m hit with the thought of you in your usual place by the window sill. It pains me too much to even enter nowadays.
Maybe I’m just too weak-willed now.
You make me weak-willed.
Anyways, I’ll most likely be going to the party. It’s been a while since I’ve left the comfort of my home. I know, I’m aware if you were reading this- you would most likely be hastily writing your next response regarding my wellbeing. It’s just how you are.
I’m waiting for that letter. I hate this so much
Anyways, I got larkspurs today. Behind the back as usual.
I love you, Dream.
More than anything.
I was rereading your old letters, yes I know, I still reread your old letters. And I found one where you mentioned the morality of your actions.
I don’t vividly recall my reply to it, but I bet my opinion hasn’t changed until now. You’re too stubborn for change, your heart is too pure and loving to ever be tainted by the soils of the heinous war. For me, nothing will ever change that.
Ambiguity is an odd thing, don’t you think? We open ourselves to the idea of others to imagine what it’s like to see the world in another perspective- yet, it’s always crushingly disappointing, to say the least. It’s an oxymoron in itself.
I’m sorry for my sudden analytical analysis, it is late once again while I’m writing this.
Some nights I wonder if the war changed you as it did with most others. I wonder what kind of nightmares plague your sleep, or how well you can shoot a rifle. Those things keep me up at night.
I wonder if you changed, I wonder if your love ever did too.
I wonder if you stopped loving me.
But then I would remember. Dream, I wouldn’t care if you are heartless, vicious and vulgar, stupid and grasping, I love you. I would rather have misery with you than happiness with any other.
You are incredible. You breathe fire. In your sleep, you shift continents and move entire armies.
You are my everything. My heart, my soul, and everything more I have to offer. You have all the broken bits and pieces of me I’d rather conceal.
But I’d give you all the unclean parts of me.
If you would take it, of course.
Green Daylilies, I saw them on my way to the pavilion. They reminded me of your eyes.
The party was terrible.
That’s such a crude way to put it, wait, let me rephrase it.
It was mildly uncomfortable.
I have no other words than to put it like that, I stood standoffish by the side while everyone mingled and danced. It was pathetic really, it felt like something straight from your cheesy romance novellas. The party, the atmosphere, the general feel of it all was all spot on. I was an awkward background character.
A lot of people approached me and gave me their condolences out of all things.
Of course, I had to refuse them.
Most of them looked at me oddly, as if I was some peculiarity. Why? I know you’re alive. I know you're out there somewhere. I’m updated on every post, every article. I’m skimming the town’s bulletin board of missing people and visiting the train station every day now. I tell them that I do not need their pity. Why would I if there’s nothing to be mourning over?
Kindly enough, I wasn’t completely alone. Your siblings were there as well, prompting me to spend their evening with me rather than enjoying the festivities. I had to physically coax your brother into joining his friends and practically had to pry off Terra just so she could leave with her mother.
Your family has been so kind to me.
They’ve taken me under their roof now. I go there almost every day for supper, and your mother doesn’t even ask me anymore when I’ll be leaving. She simply just smiles and gestures towards the added chair in the dining room for me. I’ve grown to love her as my own, sometimes, she and I both wait at the station for you in the morning. Albeit she leaves first to cook lunch for the rest.
I think your brother has grown quite fond of me. Whenever I pass by the pavilion with another newly bought book in hand- he always insists for me to read him the first chapter. Saying that you did the same thing when he was younger. I felt a tug in my heartstrings when I heard that, now I give him some of my favorites from my old bookshelf.
Sometimes your sister and I go around looking for flowers to attach to your letters. She always chooses vibrant ones too, mostly pinks and purples.
Though, she did pick her finger on one of the rose thorns earlier. Little lady couldn’t stop crying. I had to be the one to get the rest with my own bare hands whilst Terra stood sucking her thumb.
I had more than enough for a single, unsent letter, don’t worry. I gave the rest to your mother, along with a glass vase I had.
Pink roses, admiration and gentleness.
Along with this, I bring home with this letter the ring gifted to me from my father, which bears the insignia of my family. I give it to you - you have been the intangible comfort that keeps me sane, and you have been the man who has loved me in spite of my flaws. so, welcome to the family, my dearest.
I’ll be waiting by the station with this bouquet and flowers and a ring when you come back.
Someone visited our town today.
He said his name was Sapnap, a former comrade of yours.
I was waiting by the trains as usual when he arrived, fresh with a cast around his arm. He called out my name from the entrance. I turned my head around so fast I may have gotten whiplash. My heart was pounding in my ears at the thought of it being you. I turned- and you weren’t there. Stead in your place was a man with a white bandana plastered on his forehead, and a kind smile to greet me.
I didn’t want to let the disappointment seep in, but how could it not? I have been waiting for a month, through the rain and the cold, the heat and the heartache. My love, I have been standing in the same spot you kissed me before you departed. I would take any sign of your essence, I’d hold it close to my wayward heart so I could rekindle the broken pieces of it , and form them into stars.
He turned to me and gave me your emergency letter of sorts.
I didn’t read it yet, I’m afraid that if I did- It would mean you broke your promise.
I’m still holding on to that.
For now, it will sit patiently in my bedside drawer, next to the wilting bouquet of chrysanthemums and carnations from long ago. My heart prays I never dare to read it. I may never even.
Nicholas- or Sapnap most people called him, joined me for my usual stroll around the square. It was bustling with life too- new traders and shops were opening, the people sang songs in the streets, you could feel the energy bouncing off the walls themselves. The end of the war brought everyone together. After watching this slow, gloomy town mourn for so long. It’s jarring to see how change can affect people.
Sapnap said you talked about me a lot, is that true?
He laughed. He said how often you recalled the story of how we met. He said you always smiled, even when the bombs fell, or the gunpowder made you choke. He said on the darkest of days in the war, all he had to do to make you smile was just to utter my name. He said it every day, to make life in this hell a little more bearable, you wrote dozens of letters but most were never sent as well.
Did I really cause you such joy?
Before he boarded the last departure train, he turned to me with a stern look and grasped my shoulders. I had to look him in the eye, and all I saw was the face of a man who had seen the bellows of hell and walked back with a kind smile.
“George,” He said, tone low and serious. “He would've wanted you to be happy.”
And with that, I waved him off. As the train steamed off into the night. Leaving me, alone once again.
It was nice to have company, even if it was short-lived. We exchange letters, so he updates me on the rescue to captured soldiers. He tells me if he sees you amongst them, he tells me every time that he hasn’t.
We’re both waiting.
Sapnap chose the flowers this time, hyacinths. They’re lovely purple too, I hope you enjoy them.
Dream, when will you come back?
I caught your mother crying after dinner, she dropped the vase I gave her too.
I hate flowers now.
Sapnap told me to give up.
Abigail remarried, she’s now living in York with her lover. The house is barren.
I have hundreds of letters piled in my study, they all have return notices on them.
Please come back
Do you still remember our promise? I do.
I burned my copy of Agatha Christie, every time I saw it I cried.
I hate you.
I love you.
My mother says that you’re dead. I’m slowly starting to believe her.
Sir. Buchanan says I’ve been mourning for too long.
The war’s over, where are you?
Have you forgotten about me?
Goodbye, my love. It’s red tulips today.
George decides that today is the day he stops.
He’s at the doors of the library again, standing tall and firm. He does not intend to back out this time, he’s hyped himself too much for this.
He has to do this, he has to face reality.
He pushes the wooden doors open, and immediately he is enveloped in the scent of grass and sandalwood. It causes a stir in his heart, pulling and tugging at the long-suppressed memories he chose to push away for the sake of comfort. It’s oddly nostalgic as if he’s walking into an old hazy memory. Frayed at the edges yet bittersweet.
His steps still echo, yet this time is accompanied by the chatter of young children.
He looks to the tables in the middle, now some of them are half-filled with multiple young faces, headfirst into fairy tales and storybooks. Their loud mumbling is and happy giggles are so infectious in fact, that they manage to bring a weak smile onto his face.
He’s glad more people are visiting the library now. He’s glad that they’ve hired an actual lady on the front desk to shush at the children when they’re being too loud. He’s glad his former place of sanctuary, has become one for all ages and sizes.
He eyes his seat by the window sill, around it there are still the usual piles of books and papers.
George sucks in a breath, closes his eyes, and releases. He can still imagine a mess of blonde hair, and freckled cheeks. Sitting in that same spot, nursing another book in hand with a large smile.
With slow, plaintive steps. He approaches the window sill.
He looks over, the view outside is simply magnificent. The sky is painted in bright cerulean, and tinged with orange. The clouds, soft and white as they drift across the endless blue. It’s peaceful.
George looks down to the books, coated with a fine layer of dust. So thick to the point where you can’t even make out the title. He stares at it for a moment, a sudden pang in his chest as he recalls all the lovely memories he had here. He lifts his hand, and gently sweeps away at the dust. Revealing a light pink cover with gold titling.
He chokes back a sob.
“De Profundis, meaning heartfelt cry of anguish or sorrow.”
The man’s voice still echoes in his barren mind. It feels like just yesterday he met Dream, with shaky hands and an ecstatic voice. Eyes sparkling viridian as he talked about his favorite book.
George lets out a watery laugh at the thought, he remembers how Dream used to ramble about poetry.
With trembling fingers, he slowly pries the dusty book open. Inside, the first thing he sees is the note Dream used to ask him out. Beside it, are dried carnation petals, still firmly pressed on the paper like glue. They stand as a homage, as a distant memory.
I like books, you like books, why don’t we start writing the story of us-
George reads it aloud, his voice cracking and breaking while doing so. He clutches the note tightly to his chest. He feels wet streaks begin to fall from his eyes, clouding his vision with tears. His mouth quivers into a broken wail, as he weeps for the man he loved eons ago. His faraway lover, his wayward heart. His Dream.
“I-I’m sorry” He gasps, furiously rubbing away his tears. Dream wouldn’t have wanted him to cry over a dead man. “I broke my promise.”
“I can’t wait any longer.”
He stands there for a bit longer. Just as much time as he needs to let go. He’s been mourning for too long now.
Before he turns to leave for the door, someone calls out to him.
“Am I late again?”
George stands still.
Something, maybe the hope that died in him long ago- a spark of it, just an ember. Comes back full force, as a bustling, powerful flame. It eats him up inside, burning and all-consuming as it gives him the strength to turn around.
George lets out a watery and broken laugh, but still a laugh.
Dream is there, in a wheelchair with bandages littering his body and face. He’s smiling while holding a fresh bouquet and chrysanthemums and carnations.
George laughs again, he’s there.
“No,” George manages between the waterfall of tears that flow down his cheeks. “No, you’re not.”
I’ve been waiting all this time.
It all seems false for a moment. Dream wouldn’t have come back so suddenly would he? But then again, who was George to deny it? He’s written a mountain of letters, all piled and stacked somewhere in his house- waiting to be sent to the man in front of him.
He’s withstood the cold and the rain. The pain and the heartache. He has loved stone so it could be turned into marble. George is a boat at sea made to withstand the most treacherous of storms. He is a willow tree in the thunder, standing unafraid and proud in peril. He is brimstone and hellfire in the form of an aching- lovelorn heart.
Dream shuffles awkwardly in his seat, George takes the moment to absorb everything. From how overgrown his hair is now, to the way he favors his left side more now. Dream fumbles with the bouquet, ruffling the flowers to perfection and fixing the stems. He glances upwards to George with a lopsided grin.
“Uh-- for you?” He gestures stiffly to the arrangement of flowers.
George tackles him in a hug.
“Woah-- easy now. I’m quite fragile as you can see.” Dream chuckles half-heartedly, dropping the flowers to his lap, and returning the embrace to George. He draws soothing circles on his back when George’s body starts racking with sobs. He presses light kisses to the crown of his head.
“I- I was waiting-- every day--” George stammers, but he just can’t stop the tears.
Dream smiles at him tenderly, he lifts George’s head and cups one of his cheeks gently. “I was told. I arrived at the station today, and you weren’t there.”
Dream’s eyes fall crestfallen as he continues. “I thought you forgot about our promise.”
George retorts saying “I would never. I thought you broke yours.”
The blonde’s eyes watch him. “I was about too, I was holding your letters when they took me. I thought I was going to die , George.” He laughs bitterly.
“Then why didn’t you?” George asks, he so easily could have done so. He so easily could've just left him to mourn for the rest of his life. So George would have the courage to open the letter in the drawer by his bed stand. He could’ve left George as fast as he came.
Dream could have just left and forgotten about George if he wanted too.
The blonde chuckled, “I promised you I’d come back, didn’t I?”
Oh, George thinks to himself, a smile tugging at his lips, that’s why.
They sit there, in the middle of a now lively library in the middle of a spring. Holding each other close so that they may never lose each other again. George feels as if he’s coming home to something he lost so long ago. Dream feels the same, as he holds George closer, hoping to feel the reality of it all. George feels as if he was always meant to be here, that Dream never left at all. That the only place that belongs is in his arms.
Dream suddenly laughs. George can feel it as he reverberates across his body.
“What is it?”
He wheezes, “I said I would kiss you when I came back, didn’t I?”
George smiles, and for the first time again. He feels like he can be happy without consequence.
“Then do it.”
He smiles shyly, running his thumb across George's cheek bone as he leans in, and George can feel the smile on his face when he presses his lips against his. It’s sweet, like the flowers between them, soft like a new spring. it feels right.
“Welcome home, Dream.”
Somewhere behind them, an old yellowed note sits in between the pages of De Profundis;
“When you really want love, you will find it waiting for you.”